17 August 2016

Otherworld Rename and Other Tie-Ins

Otherworld's official rename is Otherworld: Origins. (The logo isn't quite right, so will change later. This is temporary only.)

Reasons for the Change

The reasons behind the title change are simple.

During the writing (or rewriting) process, it became necessary to refer to the original materials. Primarily, this reflects on playing as one of the three main characters. Hence, essentially going back to its roots, its origins, and adapting the game flow to its new course and direction.

Because the course of each character eventually converges, many parts of their storylines backtrack to the original plot concepts for previous incarnations in the planned Paranormality series. Thus:

[su_list icon="icon: book" icon_color="#800"]
  • Jack Urban's quest for finding his missing sister (from Darkling).
  • Anna Carrera's journey through the Otherworld to revisit parts of her life and decide whether to change their course or not (from Nexus, the original idea for this game).
  • Swan's past in the form of flashbacks as she travelled between worlds. (This was originally conceived for Portals, the final game in the Paranormality trilogy, conceptualized but never realised).

(Although development on these titles ceased, I merged their plots and stories into Otherworld: Origins.

Smile Game Builder Tie-In

As many of you know already, I have the honour and privilege of beta-testing the Smile Game Builder. Because it's still beta until its release date on 8 September 2016, I'm unable to give too many details on its inner workings. That is, apart from what they've already shown publicly.

However, Otherworld SGB: Through the Veil (the working title for the Smile Game Builder game), is an indirect tie-in with Otherworld. It references many events occurring in Origins, as well as ideologies that won't make it into the game.

Otherworld SGB is a 3D first-person thriller. It's essentially a "dungeon romp", where the player must navigate the mazes of the Underworld. The goal is to find the portal to the Otherworld and, ultimately, freedom. Along the way, the player meets all manner of people and creatures. Some will hinder the player, some will help them.

That's the basic concept for the early beta/sample game.

Obviously, it needs a lot more work done to it, notably on fleshing out the plot more. But, in time, this will slowly take shape.

For a sample game, my aim is to create a simple version of the officially released game. And then, after beta-testing development, I'll create a new projects subdomain specifically for Otherworld SFB. Updates will primarily include progress on development. Some updates will include tutorials on how certain effects in Smile Game Builder are achieved.

These will then be placed on the main RPG Maker Times blog.
20 July 2016

Plugin Update: Social Media Buttons/In-Game Website Plugin (RMMV)

Version 1.6 of the Social Media Buttons/In-Game Website Plugin is available.

What's New?

The Twitter button has more options for when visitors click on it - Screen Name and User ID - which go to the corresponding Twitter account.

I also added a Follow option, enabling players to follow your Twitter account directly from within RMMV.

Other Tweaks

Instead of typing the full URL for Facebook, you now only need the page id/name.

Buttons are now defined in a single array setting, rather than as separate settings for each button.

Development Notes

Although the focus has mainly been on Twitter, I'm still conducting experiments with the APIs of other social media sites, notably Facebook, but also Google+ too.

These are ongoing because of the way their share settings work. They use integrated APIs rather than a few short lines of code. They seem targeted more for website integration.

In order for it to work, JavaScript implementation in RPG Maker MV would rely on their SDKs. While this is probably viable, it's not necessarily as easy as it sounds. Facebook in particular requires embedding their SDK to enable the various share options.

Development on this is on-going, but will continue on and off.
17 July 2016

Ready To Go Medieval? New RPG Maker Packs!

RPG Maker Web has released some new DLCs, this time with a medieval theme!

How about some medieval Knights Templar character sets? Pioneer Valley Games has released one, expanding their medieval theme, including interior tilesets.

Or how about some medieval music to match? Joel Steudler has done a very good job on composing 20 medieval pieces (5 Battle, 4 Dungeon, 3 Field, 3 Theme, and 5 Town) using period musical instruments, such as the lute, recorder, and harpsichord. And I do really like this collection.

The final DLC is Sherman3D's Town of Seasons pack, which contains tiles town tilesets for Winter, Summer, Spring or Fall.

They're available for purchase and download directly from RPG Maker Web's site.

Or, if you prefer to buy them on Steam, you'll have to wait. DLCs usually appear there about a month after their release on RPG Maker Web.
10 July 2016

How Much RPG Maker Trivia Can You Answer?

RPG Maker Web presented this question on Twitter. And, of course, I tried it, curious to see just how much I know about RPG Maker because I have been involved with it since RM95, after all! (That makes me feel so old now!)

My Result: 90%

I overlooked just one fine detail. Hint: Forget about transparency!

And, so, why not try it? If you want to, post your scores here or retweet them with the hashtag #RPGMakerTrivia or @CompanionWulf. Either way, this was a cool idea!
07 July 2016

Where Does Magic Come From In Otherworld And Gaia's Dream?

RPG Maker Web posed an interesting - and valid - question on Twitter about the source of magic in game developers' worlds.

This isn't something I really thought about before, probably because I'm not that far in system development yet. I've focused mainly on story and plot, as well as character development.

So, I started thinking about the subject.

It's one of those important things, after all, and one that merits consideration because in virtually every game there's some kind of "magic" system in place. Most commonly, magic uses Mana or Magic Points (often abbreviated to MP), but some have their roots in spiritual energies or even in technology.

Game Magic Is Wide and Varied

In Final Fantasy I, for example, your spells have a limited number of uses, which replenish after resting. Similarly, in Baldur's Gate 2, spells are planned in advance and, after an 8-hour sleep, are learned ready for use the next day. And in others, like Arx Fatalis, you "write" runes in the air to cast spells.

In a number of games, notably many in the Final Fantasy series, learning new spells or skills uses Ability Points (or AP). Once you have enough AP, you can learn new magic or upgrade existing spells.

So what kinds of magic would work in Otherworld and Gaia's Dream?

21 June 2016

Trolls and Game Development

Trolls and game development go hand in hand, it seems, and there's really no escaping it.

The reasons behind trolling aren't that important. The knock-on effects - especially on new or independent game developers - are!

Rating, No Comment

For many indie gamedevs (myself included), one of the major frustrations is the lack of proper comments accompanying ratings.

Everyone's entitled to their own opinions, of course, so they have the right to comment on the game, as not every game will appeal to every player. It's a matter of personal taste or preference. So, with this in mind, it's inevitable that a game's ratings will be affected by this diversity of choice and preference.

Ratings by themselves mean absolutely nothing and contribute nothing. If accompanied by a review or comment, however, these are more valuable than just a rating. Reviews and comments help developers improve their games or help find bugs. They also give room for improving content or adding features gamedevs didn't think about.

A practical review takes the game in general and focuses on how its key components fit together in the game. The reviewer then adjusts the rating to fit, not based on whether or not the reviewer likes the game, or the content.

Trolls rate biasedly.

It Affects Me, It Affects Me Not

To be a game developer, you need a thick skin.

If a troll says nothing, then their rating means nothing. Whatever a troll does or says means nothing anyway. Even if a non-trolling, genuine person gives a low rating without commenting, it still means nothing because they've contributed nothing. I'd prefer a low rating with a comment as to why they chose to give that low rating than none at all.

Low ratings affect people in different ways. To some, it's not a big deal. To others, however, it has a much deeper effect on them. I've seen it where gamedevs have rage-quit their game development after just one bad rating and review. Yet that person offered some sound, practical advice for improving the game!

If you expect no low ratings at all, then you're going to get bitten! That is, unless your game is really good! And if you can't ignore them or let those trollish ratings go, you may not be cut out to be a game developer.

What Matters

It doesn't matter if it's just-because or out of professional jealousy, or some other reason. Focus on the ratings that matter: those with proper reviews or feedback and ignore the others.

It's always encouraging to receive a high rating, even if there aren't any comments accompanying them, and a good amount of praise. But you simply will NOT have a perfect score all of the time, as there may be something that doesn't quite fit. Your game might be slightly buggy in certain areas or you might have plot inconsistencies, spelling or grammar errors, or a system that doesn't work well.

No doubt you've heard the expression "Do what you love and love what you do"; maybe you've also used it on occasion.

The same can apply to trolls. Trolls are unimportant and insignificant. They don't have enough of that "love" to offer anything of use. So it shouldn't affect you. They don't matter.

RPG Maker's Bad Rap

RPG Maker has had quite a bit of bad rap. The most common issue, it seems, is the RTP graphics. They're not 3D or amazing graphics-wise, despite some absolutely awesome games being produced with it. One amazing game of note is To The Moon, which was created with RPG Maker XP, I believe!

Trolls have bad-rated RPG Maker because of those reasons above. And, you know what? It doesn't matter!

With the introduction of the latest in the series, RPG Maker MV, its cross-platform game production keeps many of the trolls at bay (mostly!). That doesn't stop them from trolling the games produced by RMMV. They will and do low-rate at some point; it's what they do!

If RPG Maker is your preferred engine, as it is mine, then nothing and no one should stop you from producing your games with it!
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